Otter Surveys - The Eurasian otter Lutra lutra
Ellendale environmental undertake surveys for otters where projects have the potential to impact on otters and their habitats including holts and resting sites / couches.
As otters are largely solitary, nocturnal animals, and in many areas scarce, it is often difficult to observe individuals, let alone count them. Most studies have, therefore, been based on the use of field signs, in particular their faeces (spraints). These are used because otters tend to defecate on prominent places, such as stones, under bridges, stream junctions etc., often traditional sites that can be regularly used over a number of years. Resting sites (couches) and holts (otter dens) can usually, but not always be recognised.
Following a decline in numbers mainly due to habitat loss, persecution and pollution otters are now protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and by the EC Habitats Directive, transposed into domestic law through the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended). Under the Habitats Regulations otters are classed as a European Protected Species and therefore given the highest level of protection. The legislation makes it an offence to kill, injure or disturb an otter and to destroy any place used for rest or shelter by an otter. Otters are also listed as a Priority Species on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP).
Following completion of the survey, a report is produced that details the survey methodology and results, as well as any mitigation measures and licensing requirements. The report is suitable for submission with a planning application.